Today!/Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)

The Beach Boys

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

Today!/Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) Review

by Bruce Eder

These two albums represent the point in their history where the Beach Boys essentially divide into two distinct yet interlinked musical entities: Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine (with Glen Campbell, soon succeeded by Bruce Johnston) on-stage and Brian Wilson in the studio, putting together the Beach Boys' music with a host of top session players. Consequently, the Beach Boys started to tear the envelope around them, releasing extraordinary-sounding records and redefining themselves and their music. They'd held their own up through the end of 1964 as a largely self-contained rock & roll group that had some unexpectedly sophisticated wrinkles to their sound, but with Brian Wilson no longer touring, the music blossomed in new and unexpected ways, starting with the majestic Beach Boys Today! in 1965. The unheralded player in that transformation was Jan Berry of Jan & Dean, who explained to Wilson, frustrated at having to wait for the band to come off the road to record the music he'd written and prepared, that his duo, not a self-contained unit musically, employed the best session musicians in Los Angeles to play on their sides, and there was no reason that Wilson couldn't do the same to get the music he was writing recorded -- and that few listeners really cared who was playing on a Beach Boys (or a Jan & Dean) record, as long as the voices were theirs. So apart from the vocals, which feature all of the Beach Boys, the only group members heard on most of Beach Boys Today! are Brian Wilson on bass (and possibly on piano) and Carl Wilson on lead guitar. The result is an album that doesn't really sound like any record that came before it, from the original, not-quite-perfect but still fascinating "Help Me Rhonda" to the spellbinding balladry of "Please Let Me Wonder" and "She Knows Me Too Well." The Beach Boys' music -- ballads and rock & roll cuts alike -- suddenly started sounding better than that of the Beatles or any other rock group of the period, in terms of craftsmanship. Although neither party realized that they were engaged in it for another year, Beach Boys Today! was also the album that more or less began the rivalry between the Beatles and the Beach Boys, with the American group suddenly making a leap past their British rivals, coming up with a more sophisticated approach to music-making that the Beatles themselves wouldn't start utilizing until later in 1965 and wouldn't perfect until Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and their adjoining singles in 1966-1967. The second album represented here, Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) rocks a little more, but it also features sounds that, put simply, were almost too pretty for a rock & roll group to make -- between the rocking hits like "California Girls" and the single version of "Help Me, Rhonda" were jewels like "Girl Don't Tell Me" and "Then I Kissed Her." What's especially interesting, hearing all of this material anew in glittering 24-bit remastered versions, is that the Beach Boys in 1965 were moving just as rapidly as the Beatles toward making records that were difficult to re-create on-stage, except that they were recreating a good bit of their music on-stage (difficult isn't impossible). The bonus cuts on this CD, in addition to the single "The Little Girl I Once Knew," are a brace of alternate takes of various first-rate songs. [This pairing of albums first appeared on one CD from Capitol in 1990, but that two-on-one disc was supplanted in early 2001 by a remastered version that provides far better sound, revealing a startlingly greater depth to the productions and arrangements and making this a unique listening experience.]

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 The Beach Boys 02:21 SpotifyAmazon
2 The Beach Boys 02:18 SpotifyAmazon
3 The Beach Boys 02:09 SpotifyAmazon
4 The Beach Boys 02:04 SpotifyAmazon
5 The Beach Boys 03:10 SpotifyAmazon
6 The Beach Boys 02:01 SpotifyAmazon
7 The Beach Boys 02:47 SpotifyAmazon
8 The Beach Boys 02:32 SpotifyAmazon
9 The Beach Boys 02:37 SpotifyAmazon
10 The Beach Boys 02:30 SpotifyAmazon
11 The Beach Boys 02:09 SpotifyAmazon
12 The Beach Boys 02:13 SpotifyAmazon
13 The Beach Boys 01:56 SpotifyAmazon
14 The Beach Boys 02:31 SpotifyAmazon
15 The Beach Boys 02:17 SpotifyAmazon
16 The Beach Boys 02:02 SpotifyAmazon
17 The Beach Boys 02:21 SpotifyAmazon
18 The Beach Boys 02:48 SpotifyAmazon
19 The Beach Boys 02:40 SpotifyAmazon
20 The Beach Boys 02:22 SpotifyAmazon
21 The Beach Boys 02:16 SpotifyAmazon
22 The Beach Boys 02:01 SpotifyAmazon
23 The Beach Boys 02:19 SpotifyAmazon
24 The Beach Boys 01:07 SpotifyAmazon
25 The Beach Boys 02:39 SpotifyAmazon
26 The Beach Boys 02:02 SpotifyAmazon
27 The Beach Boys 02:28 SpotifyAmazon
28 The Beach Boys 02:18 SpotifyAmazon
29 The Beach Boys 02:21 SpotifyAmazon
blue highlight denotes track pick